• Published 9th May 2020
  • 674 Views, 13 Comments

Reinventing Music - Dashie04

John Mercury is a human that has landed in Equestria. Sorely missing his music, he decides to take the step and bring it back.

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Chapter 4: Big Ten-Inch Record

I wake up to a ferocious knocking at the door. Octavia had been nice enough to let me stay at her house for the time being, however, there was a catch. She only had one bed, and that was for her and Vinyl. Therefore, she’d only let me stay here if I slept on the couch. I obliged, and after all, when you ignored the back pain you would inevitably have in the morning, the couch wasn’t that bad.

Where was I? Oh right, knocking on the door, and waking everypony in the fucking apartment complex up.

“Hey! Octy! It’s me, Vinyl!” the rude interruption shouts.

Tired, I roll over to face Octavia.”Is she usually like this?” I ask?

“She usually doesn’t wake us up in the middle of the night when we could all be sleeping. She is loud and boisterous, yes.”

I roll off the couch and onto the carpeted floor with a thud. I stand up one leg at a time, as to not get unbalanced.

Octavia walks over and opens the door.

“Hello Octy, Mercury. Speaking of which, I got a totally cool record executive who wants to see you. He says he wants to sign you, whatever that means.”

“You’re a DJ, and you never knew that people got signed to release albums under a company banner? What kind of fucked-up, weird logic is that?” I snark.

“Hey, I just play the music, I don’t perform it,” Vinyl says.

“Bring this record executive in, let’s see if this is worth waking us up in the middle of the fucking night.” I say, very irritated.

The large record executive walks in, very classy pony. Red coat, black hair, wearing a nice suit, and blue eyes.

In a voice that sounds like Johnny Cash’s with a cold, he says,”So you’re Mercury. I expected more than a runty stallion with an acoustic guitar. Are you sure I have the right house?”

“I’d presume you have the right house. Unless Mercury got stolen and replaced by a sadistic Changeling, this is definitely him,” Octavia responds.

“Besides, this is an apartment,” I snark.

The large stallion lets out a sharp exhale. “Banter will not be tolerated, plain and simple. Sign the contract, and we’re done. I’ll set you up with a recording studio so you can record those so-called Blues.” He pulls a contract out from God-knows-where, and shows it to me. It seems as thick as Inheritance. Instead of reading the contract like any sane person would do, I say ‘fuck it’ and sign on the line. The massive record executive puts the contract back wherever it came from and promptly turns around.

“Canterlot train station, 12:00 PM sharp,” he says while leaving,”if you’re not there, there will be consequences.” With that ominous warning, he leaves and shuts the door behind him.

“Did I just making a deal with fucking pony Satan?” I ask.

Looking around at the two mares next to me, they simply shrug. I don’t know how, since they don’t have any discernible shoulders, but they definitely shrug.

“Should I have read that contract? I expected it to be like contracts back home, but I hope I didn’t just do some stupid move that’ll get me killed at 27,” I plead.

Octavia and Vinyl don’t answer.

“I’m going to sleep, wake me up in the morning.”

I return to my assigned couch and start my journey of going back to sleep.

Saturday morning at nine o’ clock, I woke up. Vinyl and Octavia didn’t wake me up. I have to meet with Ol’ Sketchy at 12:00.

Oh well, this day’s not going anywhere. I don’t know how long it takes a pony to get ready. However, I have to brainstorm and think up enough Blues songs to create an album.

I get off my assigned couch, and walk up a hallway to what I presume is Vinyl and Octavia’s room. I mean, it’s not the bathroom, therefore the only other door in the hallway probably is the door I’m looking for.

“Hey, OctaScratch, you got any paper?” I shout.

I don’t get an answer.

Well, I guess I’m finding it myself. I figured they wouldn’t be much help besides showing me around Canterlot anyways.

After several minutes of digging through paper on the coffee table in front of me. I find some junk mail, and I go grab a pencil from the nearby kitchen.

Thankfully, there is a clock hanging up in the living room, but I can’t exactly read it. The words are all vague symbols I don’t understand.

Eh, human time will do.

Picking up the pencil in my weird hoof-hand, I try to think up a few songs I’d need.

Well, I need Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, hey, Lightnin’ Hopkins wouldn’t hurt, J.B. Lenoir, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and whoever the hell made Catfish Blues.

Looking and my list and the artists I knew so well. I know that it’ll be enough songs to construct an album out of, especially since I have no band yet. I was used to doing covers day in, day out, so I know all these people. I know the lyrics, too. Or well, a vague recollection of them. Let’s hope that’s enough.

It’s around ten at this point, and Octavia and Vinyl scratch still aren’t up for some bizarre reason. Using this time wisely. I pick up my guitar and start strumming out some random chords in the Blues progression. It doesn’t actually sound that bad!

Despite how promising the song sounds, I decide to just leave right now in case I got lost in the expansive city of Canterlot.

I leave at approximately 10:30. I had a vague idea of how to get to the train station. However, Octavia’s directions certainly didn’t help. I mean, I could get by with some maps outside the pony arcade, but otherwise, I was lost.

Well, I stuck my hoof out in the direction I’d presume the station to be at and I walk that way.

Following the winding paths and getting lost a few more times, I do eventually reach the station. Ol’ Sketchy is waiting there, as promised.

“You’re sure cutting it close, Mercury,” he says.

“What, is it like 11:50 or something? I mean, Octavia isn’t exactly a reliable tour guide. I got here in a vague direction.”

“11:58,” He says, his speech dripping with poison.

Well, oops.

“However, I have no choice but to allow you in, so we’ve got this studio right here. Yes, it’s right by the tracks, make due with that what you please.”

Goddammit, now I ended up in Yesterday, is that how this story’s going to go? I’m just going to get trapped in every shitty music movie cliché I knew of? Regardless, I did like the idea. You had to start from somewhere right? Ol’ Shifty was certainly somewhere. If that somewhere was woefully misguided, of course. Besides, I could make my very own Tracks on the Tracks, and that was something.

“Hey, do I get a band?” I ask the said record producer.

“A band? Colt, you gotta prove your worth first, good luck.”

The way he chuckles at the end of that doesn’t bode well.

Well, he takes a hike. I don’t know where the studio is, but I guess I’ll have to find it.

The studio’s about an hour up the track. Fantastic. Walking as a pony is somehow more tiring than walking as a human, perhaps that’s just me.

Well, as promised, it’s certainly a recording studio. It has a four-track, very impressive for this point in the musical timeline, and I of course have my guitar. I always remember to bring that with me.

Now, the Blues probably won’t sound right without atrocious sound quality. So, I take a mic from a nearby wall, and I position it as far away as possible. Hold on, that won’t work, I’d just sound quiet. Well, if it has to be Blues with good recording quality, who am I to argue?

I decide to take the mic and put it right next to my guitar. I don’t bother grabbing another one, because that’s kind of how the songs were recorded.

I decide to start with Goodnight, Irene, because I so happened to know that one by heart. Playing the version I played at Pinkie’s party, I’m just about to hit the end... when a train passes. I have to start again.

“Goodnight, Irene, Leadbelly, take 2,” I say to nobody in particular.

That one goes on without a hitch. In the moment, I sit and reflect. It’s so quiet here, aside from the trains that occasionally went by, this place was awfully quiet. I suppose being the Blues artists of the past came with the crippling isolation of them, too.

Now, here comes a big fucking problem. Aside from a couple Leadbelly songs, I didn’t know how exactly these songs were arranged. Sure, I played them on my guitar, but I generally practiced for that. As is usual for gigs, I forgot exactly how the song was played until I heard it again. I knew the lyrics, but I didn’t know the instrumentation. I could take a guess, but I suppose I’d just be playing whatever sounded good.

Well, in that case, I might as well try some Robert Johnson songs.

He was well-known for his combination of lead, rhythm, bass, and percussion all while playing alone. I might as well get the hard songs out of the way first.

Sweet Home Chicago, one of my favorites, but again, very complicated. I take my hooves to the guitar and imagine the line. I don’t know how good it sounds, but I am able to sing while playing it. Lots of jumps and various other things to note there.

Listening to the tape, I decide that it’s good enough, so I use it.

Also, another Robert Johnson classic, Traveling Riverside Blues, now this one’s actually really complicated, almost to the point where I can’t play it, so I don’t really. I play the main melody, and a little bit of the bassline, I tap my hooves on the floor and overall it doesn’t sound half bad.

Another train passes by and I realize just how lonely it’s going to be. What happened if this album didn’t sell very well? What if Ol’ Shifty doesn’t trust me enough to give me a band?

Of course, that’s all probably bullshit because The Blues Don’t Like Nobody, but everybody likes the Blues. At least, that’s how it seemed when I was playing covers of them back home. I was the designated Blues singer because, according to my singer,”You sound like you’re eternally pissed off.”

Well, fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

I realize that since I have a four-track tape anyways, I might as well record the original Black Betty. Four prisoners singing about the titular Black Betty. Not sure if it’s a gun or a girl.

However, I don’t necessarily know how taps work, and I don’t have a George Martin sitting in a booth above me doing all that stuff for me. But, I guess I could try. I suppose it worked by singing on the recording and assigning it to a track.

So, I sing the first prisoner, then the second a half-step lower, then the third a half-step lower, then finally, the fourth, yet another half step lower.

Somehow in the middle of this, another train passes by. Canterlot trains must depart very frequently. Well, I keep it in because it fits well enough with the prison railroad aesthetic, I would’ve added in some rhythmic pickaxes somehow if I could figure out how to utilize this tape like The Beatles utilized theirs.

Aside from the quick break, I go back up and pick up my guitar to record a few new songs.

The rest of the recording session goes in much of the same way. I will note however, that I had to make creative use of stomping and clapping on Bring Me My Shotgun. But, I recorded all the songs with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a four-track. I got all the tapes saved, and I currently had an album.

I leave the studio about two hours after I enter and blink viciously because of the sunlight. I wasn’t expecting to actually leave the old studio. Ol’ Shifty was not with me, so I don’t know where to deposit my songs. But, they were all saved, and I already had a name in mind.

Ol’ Shifty is not at the train station, so I decide to walk back to Octavia and Vinyl’s apartment.

The two are waiting for me, thankfully awake.

“Hey, have you two seen that record executive?” I ask.

Vinyl looks up at me,”Yeah, that big red guy? He said something about how he’d return to the station himself and compile the tracks.”

Well, I don’t know what I expected, but I kind of wanted to name that thing Big Ten-Inch Record, because I know nobody here would get it.

Oh well, that fucker. I suppose I’d let bygones be bygones. No point in rushing over, I think Ol’ Shifty will release the album regardless.

Decca walks into the trackside recording studio. In it, he finds Mercury’s tapes.

“I think this will do quite nicely,” he murmurs to himself, compiling the tapes together to set an album up for release.

Author's Note:

I truly wanted to call it Big Ten-Inch Record, but I realized that I don’t know how the fuck tapes work. So, I had Ol’ Shifty do it.

We’re hitting the ideas I planned the story around, now. The partying, big head syndrome, and of course, the ever-compromising record companies who are in it to give you a really tough time. I hope my audience is looking forward to it as much as I am.